Shoulders drooped, spirits sagged and some despaired.
The Aam Aadmi Party’s non-resident Indian supporters were as passionate about the party’s beliefs and promises as those at home. Lok Sabha elections were a mortal blow. Almost.
Buried under the mountain of bad news--defeated in all seven constituencies --was some good news: AAP’s vote share in Delhi had gone up to 33%. AAP’s back-end operations abroad were whirring again.
The party has 80-90 chapters in 30 countries, and each chapter has a dedicated core of 50 to 100 volunteers, said Shalini Gupta, US-based coordinator of the party’s NRI base.
Gupta is AAP co-founder Prashant Bhushan’s sister.
“There was a bit of disappointment (after the look Sabha election),” Gupta said, adding that the party and its activists in both India and abroad never stopped working.
A steady stream of leaders visiting the US from India such as Prashant Bhushan, Kumar Vishwas, Meera Sanyal and finally Arvind Kejrkiwal kept volunteers motivated.
And there was Yogendra Yadav, the party’s number-cruncher and strategist, who was constantly in touch on Google Hangout — the last one was on this Republic Day on January 26.
US president Barack Obama made history becoming the first US president to be chief guest at the parade, but he found barely a mention at the Hangout that day.
“Yogendra only said while the government and the BJP (AAP’s main adversary in Delhi) were busy with the visit, let’s make the most of it,” said Aman Bhatia, a party spokesperson in the US.
The US is AAP’s biggest non-India donor — the money comes only from Indian citizens residing here and, not, as a matter of policy, from American citizens of Indian descent.
Indian Americans — those no longer holding Indian passports — do contribute substantially, through working phones, and lighten up the internet, swamping Twitter and Facebook.
The US chapters “ended up calling lakhs” of people in Delhi, said Bhatia, who is also founder of top10reviews.in, in constituencies that were close, but not in the bag.
This was effective, as always, a little more this time because the BJP, which has the widest network among NRIs was not half as active this time as in the run up to the 2014 elections.
Gupta also noticed it, but couldn’t explain it, she said.
BJP’s non-resident Indian support in 2014 was exclusively on account of Narendra Modi.
They were Modi supporters, many of them told the HT in separate interviews.
Delhi was not about Narendra Modi. And AAP agreed, happily.